Colin Wilson

Author, fiction and non-fiction (occult, criminal psychology).

Probably known best for The Outsider (1956)

2004 interview associated with his Auto Biography Dreaming To Some Purpose. He went from literary lion to pariah in less than a year. His immediate crime was too much party-going, too much name-dropping, too much publicity, but his subsequent, much worse, crime was writing too many books - 110 at the latest count - on subjects ranging from serial killers to alien abductions to The Lost City of Atlantis.

Dec'2013 obit. By his own account, Mr. Wilson was a firm believer in the paranormal phenomena that increasingly occupied his pen; his fascination with murder, he said, stemmed from his vision of the killer as the archetypal outsider. All in all, this subject matter seemed to ordain him to be misunderstood. “The police called on me during their investigations into the Yorkshire Ripper murders,” Mr. Wilson said in a 1993 interview, referring to the brutal serial killings in the north of England in the 1970s and early ’80s. “I assumed they wanted my advice. In fact, I was a suspect.”

Tweaked excerpts from Peak Experience, the E F Schumacher lecture, 1982

(much of the same material is online in the preface for the Age Of Defeat.)

The fundamental aim of civilization is to promote the creativity of the individual, because this is the highest thing of which the individual is capable.

Abraham Maslow said that the Peak Experience seemed to characterize all healthy people. It was basically a sudden powerful surge of unconscious vitality.

E F Schumacher's Small Is Beautiful shows that the problem for the whole civilization is this problem of how to keep things "small" enough, so that as many people as possible can experience the sense of individuality.

(Summary of Hierarchy Of Needs: survival/food; security/territory; love, belongingness; Self Esteem; Self Actualization. Self Actualization means doing something purely for the pleasure of doing it well.)

This is obviously one of the basic problems of our civilization, with its increasing tendency to de-individuation: Self Esteem. It obviously cannot be satisfied if you are in such an enormous pond that you feel alienated from everybody else - in other words, if you feel a nobody.

In Guide For The Perplexed Schumacher turned to what seems to CW to be even more important: the problem of the lone individual in our society.... As far as I can see, improving society has to start by improving the individual... He goes on to say that the real problem is that we are trying to live without a religion. What he meant was not a religious sect (Religious Cult) but the kind of inner certainty which provides an anchor against the sense of Alienation.

If you had an absolutely ideal society with enough material goods for everyone, it would obviously still not guarantee universal Happiness. In point of fact... one of the worst consequences of an increasingly comfortable civilization is a soaring Crime Rate...

Religion is also the ability to induce in oneself a certain inner peace... If we could find a method of inducing Maslow's Peak Experience at will, we would have found the answer to this problem. No more crime, no more war, no more frustration and hatred.

The essence of the Peak Experience is a tensing of the will, followed by total relaxation.

Pencil Trick: I evolved a (Meditation) technique for inducing Peak Experience. I would take a pencil and hold it up against a blank wall. I would concentrate intently on the pencil until I saw nothing but the pencil; then I'd let go completely, until I could see the whole background of the wall behind the pencil. Then I would concentrate intently, and then let go again, and so on.When I had done that about 10 times, I would begin to feel a kind of pain behind the eyes. When you feel that pain, press on as hard as you can, because you are almost there. 2 or 3 more times and suddenly you relax totally into the Peak Experience. If you do it with total conviction, it always works.

This is even more effective combined with Wilhelm Reich's breathing method. Reich said that in order to breathe properly you must take a deep breath, then allow it to go out first of all from the chest, then from the stomach, and then finally from the genitals. As Reich made his patients do this, he would say, "Out, down, through." So lie down on your back, hold the pencil up toward the ceiling and do the concentration cycles while breathing deeply.

(Discussion about why he thinks this works.)

Now I would suggest that we have stumbled upon two basic ideas that might form the the foundation of a new religion. The first of these is the recognition that the "you" is basically the master of consciousness: it is in charge of what goes on inside our heads. The 2nd is that the way in which we can establish contact with the enormous powers of the "hidden self" is by reprogramming the subconscious mind into a positive instead of a negative attitude. (We tend to go around with one eye permanently closed, so we lose our distance-vision. Life becomes a kind of permanent worms-eye view, an endless, boring close-up-ness... We lose all power of perspective. We forget the world is full of infinite potential.) Whenever you experience any kind of delight, whenever you experience those momentary visions of intensity, it is important to hang on to them and use the insight to program your subconscious, because this is the best time to do it. Provided you do it in the moment of vision or insight, the subconscious can be totally reprogrammed. What you are trying to do is to grasp that "bird's-eye vision" so that you can never forget it.

Edited:    |       |    Search Twitter for discussion